Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blair's final conference speech

To the relief of the Labour left, and the Tory Party, Tony Blair has made his final speech to a Labour Party conference. He has done so highlighting exactly what the Blair government stands for. After months of heckling about when he is leaving, he hasn't announced the date, but he has thanked the Labour Party for him being leader - but should we thank him? What’s the scorecard?
At his worst is his:

- Pride in massive taxpayer spending in the NHS and schools (unfortunately there isn’t a great deal to show for it);
- Pride in abolishing the minimum wage (while homeless unemployed people still clutter major city streets);
- Pride in introducing new layers of government, particularly London regional government and devolution (and presumably the massive growth in public sector spending these socialist bodies have engaged in);
- Pride in there being “virtually no long term unemployed”, ignoring that the northeast has a GDP of which 57% is generated (redistributed from the private sector) by the state – unemployment through socialist economics;
- Pride in banning handguns, and the soon to be introduced ban on smoking on some private property (called public places);
- Pride in having introduced new layers of welfare by saying “before 1997, there were no tax credits not for working families not for any families; child benefit was frozen; maternity pay half what it is; maternity leave likewise and paternity leave didn't exist at all. And no minimum wage, no full time rights for part time workers, in fact nothing”;
- Supporting energy policy driven by massive state intervention “We will increase the amount of energy from renewable sources fivefold; ensure every major business in the country has a responsibility for greenhouse gas reduction; treble investment in clean technology, including clean coal; and make sure every new home is at least 40% more energy efficient.” ;
- He justifies ID cards and DNA databases because of the results “That is why Identity Cards using biometric technology are not a breach of our basic rights, they are an essential part of responding to the reality of modern migration and protecting us against identity fraud. I remember when I introduced the DNA database. On it go all those who are arrested. We were told it was a monstrous breach of liberty. But it is now matching 3,000 offences a month including last year several hundred murders, and thousands of rapes and other violent offences.”. Apparently the state having data on you is protecting you. Apparently being arrested gives the state the right to hold a database on you. Hmmmm he loses points for that.
Let’s face it, Blair is no friend of civil liberties – the ends justify the means, and he has been at the forefront of a significant growth in the state sector in the UK. However, following a forlorn Tory government, that revoltingly stabbed Margaret Thatcher in the back several years before, there have been some good points:
He gave the Bank of England independence – you know, the sort the Reserve Bank in NZ has had for many years now. He slammed the mad socialism of previous Labour governments “Even in 1974, the Labour Government spent 2 years renationalising shipbuilding and the public spent 2 years wondering why.” He gets better talking about health and education being consumer driven not bureaucratically driven “My advice: at the next election, the issue will not only be who is trusted to invest in our public services, vital though that is. It will be who comes first. And our answer has to be. The patient; the parent.” Helengrad is about renationalising, and about health and education being driven by bureaucracy. Blair is well ahead of Helen Clark on this one.
However, he is best on foreign policy. Perhaps his best statements are these:
“the new anxiety is the global struggle against terrorism without mercy or limit.This is a struggle that will last a generation and more. But this I believe passionately: we will not win until we shake ourselves free of the wretched capitulation to the propaganda of the enemy, that somehow we are the ones responsible.This terrorism isn't our fault. We didn't cause it.It's not the consequence of foreign policy.It's an attack on our way of life.It's global.It has an ideology.”
Hear hear. This is not about Israel/Palestine - it is not about Iraq, they are attacking our way of life – that is it. 9/11 happened before any invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq. If there was no Israel, and no allied presence in the Middle East, they would still wish to eradicate our way of life. It is clear - the terrorists are not "our fault".
He continues:
It is not British soldiers who are sending car bombs into Baghdad or Kabul to slaughter the innocent. They are there along with troops of 30 other nations with, in each case, a full UN mandate at the specific request of the first ever democratically elected Governments of those countries in order to protect them against the very ideology also seeking the deaths of British people in planes across the Atlantic.
If we retreat now, hand Iraq over to Al Qaida and sectarian death squads and Afghanistan back to Al Qaida and the Taleban, we won't be safer; we will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril.
Of course it's tough. Not a day goes by or an hour in the day when I don't reflect on our troops with admiration and thanks - the finest, the best, the bravest, any nation could hope for. They are not fighting in vain. But for this nation's future. But this is not a conventional war. It can't be won by force alone. It's not a clash of civilisations. It's about civilisation, about the ideas that shape it.”
This is about civilisation full stop. What Islamists promote is not civilisation - it is a racist, bigoted, sexist, authoritarian irrational dark age.
Now I’m no friend of the British Labour Party. I tend to see it as a breeding ground for a hodge podge of do-gooding interfering busybodies who think they know what is best, who talk about social justice, combined with a hardcore of died in the wool Marxists who should have been brought up in the USSR. The Labour Party in the UK has little it should be proud of, being a party of big government. However, the Tories have recently been riding high in the polls – based on what? However, the Tories have recently been riding high in the polls – based on what? Blair has a pretty good idea:

His foreign policy. Pander to anti-Americanism by stepping back from America . Pander to the Eurosceptics through isolation in Europe. Sacrificing British influence for Party expediency is not a policy worthy of a Prime Minister.

He wants tax cuts and more spending, with the same money.

And his policy for the old lady terrorised by the young thug is that she should put her arm round him and give him a nice, big hug.

Built to last? They haven't even laid the foundation stone. If we can't take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn't be in the business of politics at all.The Tories haven't thought it through. They think it's all about image
Indeed - Chameleon Cameron has been coined by some - they want to give tax cuts and increase spending, and are largely involved in image manipulation. Blair, of course, knows how important image is. Let’s face it, half of the British public wouldn’t know how to improve government if they tried – they choose image, and Cameron is the younger man, and Blair is yesterday's man, and the predominantly leftwing electronic media (BBC, ITV/Channel 4 news) is out for his blood.
I’ve said before that I’ll miss Blair. I will, if only because Gordon Brown is worse and David Cameron has watered down the Tories so much they don’t deserve my support. Blair has presided over Nanny State government growing more and more in the UK, he has also presided over tax increases and increased state spending at all layers of government. He has done little to confront the EU leviathan, a beast that sucks up productivity, innovation and freedom from 25 countries in Europe, and sucks up money to dish out to inefficient, environmentally unfriendly producers of food, undermining producers elsewhere around the world and world trade more generally. The EU is a revolting institution that does little besides sustain massive corporate welfare and be regulatory Big Brother – it is socialism’s revenge for the end of the Cold War. Blair has been weak in confronting this.
At best, Blair has rolled back little of what Thatcher did, he shifted the Labour party from being on the far left to being in the centre – more than NZ Labour. Also, he started devolving school control to schools themselves, and allowing private providers of health care to compete with the NHS for NHS contracts – the latter is less important, the former is very important. Giving schools more control and more independence is a welcome step forward in moving education away from bureaucrats and teacher unions, to what parents want.
However, Blair’s greatest achievement has been clarity on the war on terror. At this time in history, it has been critical – and one for which he has personally carried much flak. He is hated extensively by many on the left, Saddam’s sycophant George Galloway, Islamists and others who believe in appeasement, despise Blair – it has taken courage to allow so much of his party to hate him, and to continue with policies that undoubtedly are opposed by much of the British public.
Nevertheless, he has less than a year as Prime Minister. Whoever Labour chooses as successor is hardly likely to impress me – after all it IS the Labour Party. Britain is a country full of people who love interfering with other people’s lives, this is why it is full of gossip magazines and tabloids that delve into personal matters of the famous. Blair was popular because after 18 years of Tory austerity, he threw other people’s money at so many who wanted it, and responded to those who wanted to ban or compel. The worshippers of mediocrity who comprise most of Labour’s voting public got a PM that exceeded themselves – and when he stood up for values, they hated him for supporting the USA – because the USA isn’t a place that worships mediocrity. In a couple of weeks, the Tories will show their colours - if only they knew what they stood for - if only the great unwashed gave a damn!

1 comment:

darren said...

There is one thing the Tories stand for.......

The National Anthem!